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Albemarle County sets maximum tax rates for next year

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors is moving closer to approving its tax rates and budget for fiscal year 2024, leaving the current property tax rates the same.

The county’s total proposed budget for next year is about $551.5 million. On Wednesday, the board voted unanimously to advertise its real estate tax rate as $0.854 per $100 of assessed value and its personal property tax as $3.42 per $100 of assessment.

If approved, the tax rates will not provide homeowners the relief many had sought as a result of higher property values in 2022.

During Wednesday’s meeting and previous meetings, Albemarle County residents complained about the tax rate after their real estate assessments increased about 12% on average. If tax rates remain the same for the upcoming year, taxpayers will pay higher taxes because of the rise in value of their homes.

Even so, the proposed budget for next year is about $35 million less than the current adopted budget. That’s largely due to the fact that the county is no longer getting pandemic-related funding from the federal government.

“This is needed,” Supervisor Ann Mallek said during the meeting.

More than half of the board’s budget, 57%, goes towards Albemarle County Public Schools. That covers the division’s operating costs as well as some capital projects.

“Sometimes it’s just not intuitive to our taxpayers to think about how strong the connection is financially between local government and our county schools,” County Executive Jeff Richardson told the supervisors.

The school division is working on building two new elementary schools in the next fiscal year, as well as renovations to its elementary and middle schools.

“We’ve not built a new school in Albemarle County in 20 years,” Richardson said.

The budget also includes $7.6 million for public safety, one of the county’s priorities. That includes a 14% increase in the police department’s budget and a 16% increase for Fire Rescue.

According to county officials, the 4% increase in county employees’ salaries will help further the county’s goal of workforce stabilization. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that inflation in 2022 was 6.6%. The county is also increasing its contribution to its employees’ health insurance.

“We’re relying upon what the community wants, and these are the projects that they want,” Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley said.

The board’s vote is not final. The proposed budget and tax rates are the maximum that the county can set. There will be at least one more work session on March 22 to cover funding for transit. Residents will have opportunities to voice their opinion during town halls over the next few weeks and there will be a public hearing on April 26. In May, the Board of Supervisors will approve the budget and adopt its new tax rates.


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